Well, it's a group that's been around for a year or so, and meets in a coffee-shop every fortnight to read plays, poems, short stories, well, mostly plays and mostly Shakespeare. Why Shakespeare? A very silly reason: Shakespeare's plays are easy to get hold of unlike some other contemporary plays that are not easily available in bookshops and libraries. Besides, Shakespeare is so profound that just reading his plays is a good enough reason to meet and read.
The first meeting took place in June 2005 when I invited a couple of my close friends to Starbucks in Juffair. We read Merchant of Venice together and afterwards read a selection of favourite poems. Everything went well except for the noise in Starbucks. The place might be great for socialising, but it's just not THE place for reading plays and poems.
Hence, alternate venues were considered, and so far, it has been either The Conservatory or Verandah, and both are in Adliya. Conservatory is a fine venue because it's quieter, more intimate, comfortable, and serves the tastiest carrot cake in the island. The only problem is that we have to leave by 7 pm, and that leaves us only two hours to read a play, comment on it, eat and drink, gossip and read a favourite poem or prose piece in between. So what really happens is that we read as much as we can, and if possible, continue next time we meet.
The idea of Readlings is to bring back the tradition of those old literary gatherings in coffee shops, and hence, Conservatory, Starbucks, Verandah have been chosen as venues for past meetings. It has to be a coffee-shop or, at least, a restaurant in order to capture the spirit of that tradition. And yes, we read the plays together with as much emotion our thespian nerves can manage. The advantage being that we get to do Shakespeare and other greats without actually having to memorise the lines and do the boardwalk.
I'd be quite thrilled to have many more "Readlings" around, and have been persuading some of my friends abroad to do something similar. Besides, there is no reason why we cant have more than one Readlings in Bahrain because more the merrier... or in other words, more people reading together is what we really need.
Our next meeting is at The Conservatory in Adliya and we'll meet there between 5 and 7pm. We'll be reading Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", and so if you plan to attend do get hold of a copy and bring it along.